Thursday, 14 December 2017 | News today: 14

Venizelos does (not) know what he is doing

The alleged diplomatic incident which did (not) happen during the meeting of the 60 countries coalition, led by the USA, on fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), reveals the essence of the model represented by the incumbent Athens' government, which is actually the same in the past twenty years

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Columnist: Goran Momiroski

Evangelos Venizelos did not leave the meeting chaired by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, although he claims he demonstratively got up and left the room because Macedonia and its minister were presented under the constitutional name. There have been plenty of such examples in the past twenty years on various multilateral meetings. Whenever possible, Greece blackmails with attendance, threatens to leave a meeting, but eventually, its representatives, whether high or low-ranked ones, always finalize the business they initially came to do, while sending the picture of true patriots to Greece at the same time.

In that manner, Venizelos’ fake drama act regarding Macedonia is nothing new. Macedonia would have to suffer Greek aggression up until Washington and Brussels allow it. The only fresh moment is the way both leaders of the Greek ruling coalition will confront each other in the dawn of the inevitable early elections, which seems to be the essence of the alleged Brussels incident. Venizelos’ attempt to lie, supported by institutional public note issued by the Greek Foreign Ministry, has currently more to do with the situation in Greece than its relations to Macedonia. Even before he departed to Brussels, Venizelos was aware the vote on new president of the Greek parliament will take place. Abuse of the Foreign Ministry press office, which had to lie in the press release, is only Venizelos’ attempt to improve his rating, which is not very optimistic before the early elections. His Greek councilors on public appearances, among which rumors of a couple of highly-paid foreigners financed by the party’s sponsors, have advised him to use the name issue whenever possible, to actually be radical towards Macedonia, while lessening the exposure of savings and tightening of the state belt. The leader of the former grand Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party, with his current rating, can only hope for a vice premier position and foreign minister, which is just not enough for Venizelos.

Numerous well-informed Athens sources are convinced Venizelos is making the moves of the leader of the Serbian socialists, Ivica Dacic, head of Belgrade Government, although his party ended third in the 2012 elections. Venizelos hopes for New Democratia and Syriza to have some 30% rating each, so that none of them could form a government according to the existing coalition-making rules of the southern neighbor. In such case, Venizelos’ PASOK joins the game, but only if it manages to win over 10% votes share, which might make him the decisive factor on who gets to form the new Greek government. If none of them succeeds in forming a government without PASOK, which completely makes sense if he wins, for instance, 11% of the votes (having no more than 7% at the moment), than Venizelos could easily blackmail them, aiming for the PM seat, gaining an opportunity to return the old fame of his party. At the same time, Venizelos will be also rooting for Golden Dawn to achieve better results, which also has some 7% of the votes and no other party would form a coalition with it. Understandably, for Venizelos’ scenario to come true, PASOK collaborators have been in touch for weeks with SYRIZA leader, Alexis Tsipras, who – just like his fellow leader of PASOK – considers himself to be much more flexible in terms of making exceptions and compromises than the obstinate Samaras. One of the possible combinations even has Tsipras giving up the PM seat to Venizelos just so he could take the blame for the unmet promises of the radical leftist.

Why did Samaras take the risk?

According to the last public opinion poll, the radical left-oriented coalition SYRIZA is at the leading position with 5% ahead of Andonis Samaras’ party Nea Democratia. The first poll was published after the early presidential vote in the Parliament and it shows that Samaras has only 25,7% public support. It is logical that the early election of a new president is actually a hope that as a prime minister they would win the required 26 MPs (Nea Democratia and PASOK have 155 MPs, and it takes 180 for a new president to be chosen) from other parties to back his candidate, former chief of diplomacy, Stavros Dimas, and to ensure himself another year of untroubled governance. In that manner, he would eliminate speculations on total stock markets collapse and even deeper crisis, which caused for Athens stock market to drop by 12% in just one day. Opposition SYRIZA greeted Samaras’ move, finding it to be his self-signed political death penalty. The leader Tsipras, however, is not optimistic at all. If he becomes a prime minister, he would have to keep his promise for 50% salary increase, free heating for the poor and cease of dept payment, which has put the country in unfavorable situation in the first place. According to assessments, without the support by the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Greece would only be able to survive by June 2015 at latest. What matters most to Macedonia is that no Greek government will neither by than or afterwards put any effort into resolution of the name dispute, which cannot increase anyone’s political scores in Greece, but can only cause great damage to them.